I have to say that when I think of Buffaloes, I think of vast American prairies with open expanses of grass and buffaloes with shaggy coats and horns… perhaps I have the wrong country? And these are in fact Yaks? Or something else? Whatever the case, the animals I think of are large and hairy bovines with horns – BIG horns… (often with snot dribbling out their noses…) and on the way to Buffalo Dining Club I am expecting a large set of bovine horns stuck somewhere on a wall…. And perhaps a cow hide banquette… Ranch style… You know what I mean?
Buffalo Dining Club could not be further from a ranch. When we arrive relatively early on a Friday – around 6:30pm, there are no horns, I am happy to say…. in fact there are no stuffed animals of any kind… and definitely no cowboys either… only cool looking people on already full tables… the closest you might get to anything ranchy is the mural on the wall… I can vaguely see a lasso in there somewhere? Maybe…? What you will find here at Buffalo Dining Club is Buffalo Mozzarella – in all its soft, plump, cheesy glory!
We wait to chat to Marcelo (Garrao) who is a friend of Oscar’s from soccer and co-owner of Buffalo Dining Club (along with Peter Kypreos and Michael Fantuz – from Table for 20). Marcelo greets us warmly and shows us to a cute little banquette upstairs (no cow hide). He tells us that Buffalo Dining Club used to be the old Burgerman – and a light flickers on in my mind. The last time I went to Burgerman, the whole place felt sterile – like a hospital, all white walls and fluorescent lights – only with burgers and tomato shaped sauce bottles… Thank God all this has changed… In it’s place you will find a refined yet comfortable terrace-style charm and a clever, delicious (and reasonably priced) menu.
When I say ‘clever’ I mean that the chefs here at Buffalo Dining Club have had the intelligence to provide food that is of really fantastic quality, and then leave it alone… rather than mucking around with the ingredients and muddying the flavours. The food is what it is… honest and pure.
We order from the blackboard on the wall. I go for the Buffalo Mozzarella – of course – with two sides – Roasted Pumpkin, Spelt and Rocket Salad and a bowl of Olives ($17). Oscar orders the Burratina (Goats Cheese) with two sides – White Anchovies & Crispy Polenta with Gorgonzola ($15). We also order some “PIG” – 30 grams each of the Prosciutto San Daniele ($5) and the prized Pata Negra ($7). To wash all this down, we also order a bottle of the Alamos Malbec from Argentina ($48).
Our meals arrive promptly accompanied by a plentiful supply of bread – in a variety of shapes and sizes. The “PIG” arrives in heavenly thin slices of salty, fatty yumminess on traditional deli paper (it is sliced freshly per order from the kitchen downstairs). My Buffalo Mozzarella is soft, mild, plump and delicious!! Forkful after forkful of soft, white mozzarella pillows glide into my mouth and I’m not so keen on sharing with Oscar. However, goats cheese is one of my most favourite cheeses in the whole entire world, so I do manage to swap a few portions for some of Oscar’s Burratina. It is truly worth the trade – and I’m not really sure which is I like best in the end… The Malbec is dry to start with strong tannins and plummy with dark berries, yet mellows and turns velvety as we progress further into the meal – it is the perfect accompaniment to our feast!
Whilst we munch away on what is essentially a main-sized cheese and charcuterie plate each, someone at the next table has ordered the “Spaghetti” ($18). For a dish that is labelled very simply, there is a fair bit of drama involved – so much so, that it takes two staff members to serve it! An enormous wheel of mozzarella cheese, filled with steaming spaghetti, is hauled along to the table by one staff member. The other then proceeds to chip off chunks of parmesan and whirl the spaghetti around to melt all the flavours through before serving it into a bowl and placing it before a hungry customer. Simple, fabulous food, served in a really cool way. I loved this part!!
Marcelo generously orders us complimentary desserts. 3 scoops of Gelato (Raspberry, Sweet Potato & Chocolate) and a Tiramisu. The Tiramisu is proper Italian Tiramisu. Soft, moist sponge and cream delicately balanced with espresso and chocolate. There is no overpowering booze or meddling with new flavours – this Tiramisu is the real deal. The gelato was stunning – and it might sound weird, but the grey-ish coloured sweet potato gelato was my favourite! Definitely give this one a try!
Buffalo Dining Club has transformed what was a very sterile and boring place into something that has character and charm whilst remaining modern – a little bit of Italian restaurant crossed with Paddinghurst Terrace. Here you will find concrete floors, dark timber stairs, wrought iron balustrades, a vaulted double space, rustic plaster walls, a huge side mirror, blackboards, a wine wall, exposed light-bulbs and twinkling candles. Oh… and the pop-art style mural… But it works… really works… It’s eclectic and interesting but comfortable. There is no pretense. I love it!
And it’s strange, even with all those hard surfaces and vaulting ceilings – it’s not noisy.
Honesty and charm – arm in arm.
LOVIN’: I can’t pick… If I wrapped some Pata Negra around a blob of Mazzarella and Burratina I’d be in heaven….
NOT LOVIN’: ?
HOW MUCH: $$$$$
WHERE: 116 Surrey Street, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
WHEN: Wed – Sat: noon – 11:pm (no bookings)
CONTACT: (02) 9332-4052
Buffalo Dining Club FB page
PS – A big thanks to Marcelo and the Team at Buffalo Dining Club for being so incredibly hospitable and allowing us to run around and snap pics all over the place. We had a great time and a great meal!!